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April 30, 2012

The Catch in Consumer Reports’ $12 Subscription Offer

Filed under: Internet,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:53 am

Consumer Reports is advertising one of the most amazing offers they have ever made for a one-year subscription — only $12.

Here’s the webpage promoting the offer:

What you can’t see clearly in this miniaturized version of the webpage above is a potentially expensive catch on the left side:

*MOUSE PRINT:

The above fine print is shown actual size, and indicates that your subscription will renew every year unless you stop it, and you will be charged the then current regular subscription price, probably in the $26-$29 range.

Although another disclosure is made on the final checkout page in similarly small type, it would have been nice of this pro-consumer organization to more clearly and boldly disclose the continuing nature of the subscription at a much higher price.

• • •

17 Comments

  1. You really need to be careful these days on any items you buy that are yearly and you give them your credit card number as so many of them are doing this, the automatic renewal.

    Comment by Jim — April 30, 2012 @ 6:26 am
  2. Automatic renewals should be illegal. I will no longer sign up for anything that has an automatic renewal, as I had issues with almost every one of those when you try to get them to actually stop the renewal. I had problems with Consumer Reports with their online subscription, as they charged my expired credit card. Consumer Reports is no better than any other company, as this is a questionable business practice. Also beware of a Bizrate survey, once completed you can get 5 magazine subscriptions for only $2 each. Great deal, but all of them are automatic renewals. Say Thanks, but no thanks.

    Comment by Tim — April 30, 2012 @ 8:17 am
  3. I don’t sign up for anything with automatic renewal because I’ve received “reminders” that were buried in advertisement. It’s a rip-off waitng to happen. And Consumer Reports is a business, not a philanthropic organization; I see no halo over them.

    Comment by Bob F — April 30, 2012 @ 9:09 am
  4. Bob F, the trick is knowing though which places are automatic renewals. Many companies are slipping this in.

    Comment by Jim — April 30, 2012 @ 9:17 am
  5. Most good deals on magazines are like this nowadays. I use a virtual credit card number which is only good for one month (used to be for one time use, even better). Then when they try to auto-renew it does not go through.

    Comment by Jean — April 30, 2012 @ 10:12 am
  6. For an organization that touts its consumer advocacy mission over and over, this ploy is very disappointing. Speaking as a long-time subscriber, I think they owe us an apology. On the other hand, caveat emptor is a warning to heed no matter who the seller might be.

    Comment by Bill — April 30, 2012 @ 10:16 am
  7. While I agree that automatic renewals should be outlawed, it’s hard to argue since everyone does it and in their defense it does say that they at least have to courtesy to send you a notice letting you know that you will soon be charged, not that you have been charged, giving you both a reminder and the chance to cancel before you get re-upped.

    Comment by Tom — April 30, 2012 @ 10:31 am
  8. Consumer Reports just moved down a notch… sad.

    I subscribed to them for years (decades?). Then I realized that on things I knew about ( computers, cell phones) I disagreed with their analysis and probably shouldn’t depend on their recommendations for things I didn’t know about.

    Shame… i do beleive they try hard to be fair/honest (at least up until now).

    Robert

    Comment by robert — April 30, 2012 @ 11:05 am
  9. Had a painful lesson with automatic renewal years ago. My solution was to take “advantage” of the offer with a check rather than credit card. Never had a problem since.

    Jim

    Comment by Jim — April 30, 2012 @ 12:18 pm
  10. EZ! I just put in my 1 year expense calendar the 12th month I started the subscription. I’ll email a stop for the renewal. Done this before. A good deal! Where do I sign up?

    Edgar replies: Signing up is very difficult at this point, because a quirk in their system has now been closed. My understanding is that now you have to sign up for a 30-day online trial, then go to this URL in order to see the $12 order:

    https://ec.consumerreports.org/ec/cr/order.htm?pkey=crMagTwelveOnlyPromo&IW23CDUP1

    Obviously, before the 30 day expiration of the online trial, you have to cancel it.

    Only a few people are now reporting that the above system works to get the $12 offer.

    Comment by Gerry — April 30, 2012 @ 1:37 pm
  11. I don’t know about Consumer Reports, but Time magazine with a similar deal sent a very clear reminder about the autorenewal over a month before it took effect, so I had plenty of time to take action. I was very impressed.

    Comment by Boris — April 30, 2012 @ 2:03 pm
  12. I don’t know if Consumer Reports still does this, but they used to run this promotion: They offered a free issue to try them out. If you liked it, pay the 1 year subscription invoice and get the remaining 11 issues. If you don’t like it, cancel, you owe nothing, and you keep the one issue you received.

    I pointed out to CR that the only people that were getting a free issue were the ones who ended up NOT subscribing. For the people who did subscribe, the supposed “free” issue became the first paid issue of the 1 year subscription. Deceitful, as the “get a free issue” feature was very prominently displayed, with no asterisk indicating that not everyone would receive a free issue. Funny, I never heard back from CR on that.

    Comment by Richard — April 30, 2012 @ 3:17 pm
  13. I have subscribed to the “on-line” version of Consumer Reports for years. I often wonder why my subscription costs as much as the paper version that has to be mailed, etc. The on-line version has few to none illustrations of what is being rated. It would also be helpful if they would send an e-mail reminder each month when a new issue has been released. I do use it when I am about to make a purchase. However, I do not like being solictited for donations when they send out their “lottery” tickets. I do not usually participate in the drawing.

    Comment by Anne — April 30, 2012 @ 8:44 pm
  14. read it for FREE…at the library.

    Comment by dave — May 1, 2012 @ 5:07 am
  15. Many libraries provide online access to Consumer Reports via a library card. I’m able to read CR at home – I just have to login to my library’s web site first and go from there.

    That said, I rarely bother to consult CR’s reports any more. I’ve tried to use their reports in the past, but manufacturers update product lines too quickly, making the CR info outdated even before it’s published. Even if you do have a current report, their reviews sample a very small segment of whatever market they’re reporting on, and even then they tend to overlook things I feel are important. And while I do appreciate their work with cars, I only need that info once every… eight years?

    Sorry, Consumer Reports… you’re going to have to make some big changes before I pay for a subscription.

    Comment by Jeff D — May 3, 2012 @ 1:37 pm
  16. I saw the automatic renewal for Consumer Reports, when I went to this site, before you had it on Mouseprint. That’s why I did not subscribe to it. I’ll pay them by check, I know it will cost more. Every site, has auto renewal now! They should make it illegal!….Marv

    Comment by Marv — May 12, 2012 @ 10:08 am
  17. Their objective is to obtain that credit card # and your initial order. They know, and statistics support, that you will likely not see or otherwise overlook that date a year from now and you will get “renewed” at the much higher price. This is something you might expect in today’s world but seems more like something a porn site might do, not a until-now, respected CONSUMER publication. Shame on CR. It seems to make the content of their mag or site less credible.

    Comment by David — May 22, 2012 @ 2:26 am

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